What is Anxiety?

The body's natural response to stress is anxiety. It's that uneasy feeling that hangs over your head, heartbeat racing, and palms sweaty. Most people get this feeling from time to time. While some worry and concern are normal, it becomes a problem when it begins interfering with your daily routine.

Anxiety can present differently from person to person. There are several types of anxiety disorders, all of which can be crippling mental illnesses. Luckily, with proper care, many sufferers can control their symptoms and lead full, healthy lives.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry. This feeling often centers on a particular event, situation, person, or place. Because the symptoms can be overwhelming, these disorders can be challenging to live with and require medical help to manage. If you are struggling with anxiety, speak with one of our online doctors to see how we can help you start feeling better. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

The term anxiety disorders encompasses many types of fears. Some of the most common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - This refers to excessive worry surrounding daily tasks or daily life itself.
  • Panic Disorder - This is an unexpected feeling of fear that can occur without any warning. Panic disorder can feel like anxiety for no reason. It often occurs in people with a family history of psychiatric disorders or experiencing very stressful situations.
  • Situational anxiety - This is worry surrounding a particular situation in your life, such as a relationship, work issue, or illness. The fear is usually limited to this situation.
  • Phobias - This is an extreme worry, fear, concern over a specific thing, place, or situation. Specific phobias usually focus on the known trigger.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder - This refers to the fear, worry, and concern over being separated from a loved one.
  • Health Anxiety- This refers to extreme health worries. It may go hand in hand with hypochondria, which is the fear that you have a condition you do not.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder - This psychiatric disorder is characterized by severe discomfort when in public. This may manifest as a fear of being watched or speaking to others. It can significantly affect participation in normal day-to-day activities.

Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety presents differently in each person, and symptoms can also depend on what type of underlying issue is provoking the condition. In most cases, the stress triggers the release of adrenaline and activation of your "fight or flight," which can manifest as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fear or a sense of doom
  • Feeling nervous for an extended amount of time
  • Trouble sleeping, or a change or disruption of regular sleeping patterns
  • Difficulty controlling worried feelings
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trembling or the development of tremors
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Anxiety headaches or tension headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic body pain
  • Stomach ache or nausea
  • Diarrhea or new-onset inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Skin sensitivity

Because each person experiences these feelings differently, it is essential to know what is normal for your body. This can help you identify new symptoms and bring them to the attention of your healthcare provider.


While there are many self-screening tests online, a formal diagnosis must come from a medical professional. They will ask many questions about your daily life, routines, and feelings to understand what is normal for you. If you have been struggling for a while, be prepared to answer questions like:

  • What symptoms do you experience when you are feeling anxious?
  • When did these symptoms first begin?
  • What was happening in your life when you first experienced these symptoms?
  • Do you have a family history of anxiety or other psychiatric disorders?

Questions like this can help your medical professional understand what you are feeling and why, so don't be alarmed by them. Your medical professional may also do a physical exam and bloodwork to ensure the correct diagnosis. In some cases, they may also refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for additional help.

If you've been having any of the above symptoms, contact one of our online physicians for help now.


Treatment varies greatly from patient to patient as what works for one person may not for another. Usually, a combination of lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication is helpful to control symptoms.

Lifestyle and Behavioral Treatments

Living a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce stress and control unwanted worry. Plenty of sleep, exercise, and hydration will help keep you physically well and positively affect mental health. In addition, avoiding things that can alter your mood, like alcohol, or make you feel jittery, like caffeine, is also beneficial.

Because knowing what causes your anxiety is key to reducing it, journaling can help you identify triggers and process emotions. Many people find that practicing mindfulness or meditation can also decrease stress.

Working with a counselor or therapist, especially one trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can effectively manage these disorders. In addition, support groups can be helpful to reduce anxiety.

Medication Therapy

If your physician feels it is appropriate, they may prescribe medication to help control your anxiety. This often consists of a benzodiazepine (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc.) and an antidepressant. The latter usually takes about 4-6 weeks of regular use to take full effect. A benzodiazepine used as needed can help control your symptoms in the meantime or during an acute episode of anxiety.

Over the counter anxiety medications are also available, but, unfortunately, these are usually not very effective. For this reason, it is best to speak with your doctor if you feel medication might help your anxiety.



Anxiety is a real psychiatric disorder. A certain level of anxiety is normal, but it is time to consult your healthcare provider when it begins to interrupt your life. Depending on the type of anxiety you suffer from and its triggers, it can be a chronic or acute health problem. Whether a short-term or long-term problem, it is important for your quality of life and health that you work to bring your symptoms under control. 

Living with anxiety can be very difficult, but a combination of lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication can make your symptoms manageable. To start breaking free from the burden of living with anxiety, contact one of our online doctors now.

Our board certified doctors can treat a wide variety of medical conditions through SkyMD®. Common conditions that can be diagnosed and treated through our online platform include but are not limited to:

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